Key Battle: Arzani v Ikonomidis

When Melbourne City FC host Western Sydney Wanderers at AAMI Park this weekend, two of Australia’s brightest young talents will go head-to-head. Ahead of the match, we take a look at the key numbers between Daniel Arzani and Chris Ikonomidis.

Since he was rewarded with an opportunity at senior level by Warren Joyce, Daniel Arzani has refused to take a backwards step.  Within a couple of weeks, Arzani went from dominating the Y-League to doing much of the same in the Hyundai A-League.

The 19-year-old’s approach to football is fearless, as he continues to leave experienced defenders in his wake. On Saturday night, City’s star attacker will face another one of Australia’s brightest young prospects in the A-League, Chris Ikonomidis.

Ikonomidis’ journey is a little different to that of Arzani’s. Originally from Cronulla in Sydney, the 22-year-old moved to Atalanta in the Italian Serie A before signing for Roman giants Lazio. On the last day of January, the six-times capped Socceroos international moved to Western Sydney on loan with the goal of recapturing the form that saw him represent his nation.

So far Ikonomidis has done exactly that, making an immediate impact in the six games that he has played at his new club (Arzani – 12 games). 

There is no doubt that both players produce their best work in the attacking third.  So far this season they have both scored two goals apiece, with Arzani producing nine shots on target compared to Ikonomidis’ five.

Arzani’s strongest attribute is his ability to dribble the ball and his strength over the ball. He will often take on multiple defenders at a time and successfully dribble past them. So far this season, he has recorded a staggering 59 successful dribbles. Dribbling is also one of Ikonomidis’ strong suits, with the Wanderers attacker having registered 17 successful dribbles in six games.

The City attacker always looks dangerous in front of goal and has an impressive rate of 60% shooting accuracy (Ikonomidis – 26.3% shooting accuracy). 

In terms of direct attacking distribution, the City youngster has the edge over his opponent from Western Sydney – producing three assists (Ikonomidis – 0 assists). But aside from assists, the key numbers between the pair are very similar when you take into account how many games they have played.

Arzani has produced five successful crosses, two more than Ikonomidis, and 12 key passes, three more than his Wanderers counterpart. The City youngster has also won one penalty, demonstrating his attacking threat.

Despite their attacking prowess, both players have demonstrated their willingness to work hard defensively. Ikonomidis has won seven tackles (Arzani – 8 tackles), and travels at a rate of 70% tackle success (Arzani – 61.5% tackle success rate). The Wanderers attacker has also made two clearances (Arzani – 0 clearances) and one interception (Arzani – 2 interceptions).

Arzani and Ikonomidis have both shown their ability to thrive under pressure, and this weekend’s clash will be no different with both teams desperate for the win. Both players have the ability to step up to the big occasion, but which one will, remains to be seen.

City host Western Sydney at AAMI Park on Saturday night in their second last home game of the season, kick-off 7:50pm (AEDT). Get your tickets here.